Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14th, 2012 - Clockwork Porter

Good evening!  Tonight I am very excited to be pairing Rush's brand new album "Clockwork Angels" (which I just picked up on my way home from work from the Heavy Metal Shop) and Epic Brewing Company's Galloway Porter!  Trying something new this time in that I am pairing a beer I've never had and an album I've never heard.  Let's see how it turns out!  Oh, and I'm also dedicating this pairing to 2 people who mean the world to me and have both helped define who I am: my long-time friend and Rush compatriot, Wes (we both discovered Rush at the Weber County Library vinyl collection) and my brother, Dain, also a huge Rush fan and my concert buddy for the past 15 years.  Cheers boys!!

"Clockwork Angels" is Rush's highly anticipated (and postponed) 20th studio album, which is a concept album of sorts in that the songs are tied together by themes and motifs and a character called "the Pedlar".  A bit of a departure from the sound of the last couple of albums, my initial impression is very good.  There are some elements of classic Rush ("The Anarchist," "Wish Them Well," and "The Garden" - well, sort of) and elements of the 1990s Rush ("Caravan," "BU2B," "Halo Effect"), but there's a very original and fresh sound to the compositions, lyrics, and delivery ("Clockwork Angels," "Carnies," "Headlong Flight").  There is definitely the signature Rush approach: precision, musicianship, and complex lyrics, but there is a something wholly un-Rush to some of the songs as well - in a good way.  Alex's guitar work is like nothing I have heard from him in the past, yet it is still the brilliance of Alex Lifeson of Rush.  Geddy sounds almost younger and revitalized in both singing voice, keys voice, and bass voice.  Neal is full of energy and vigor as he bangs away on the drum kit.  Furthermore, this album seems much more hopeful both in music and in lyrics ("The Wreckers") than anything since late '90s Rush.  Listening to "Clockwork Angels" I'm reminded of how I felt when I first discovered Rush as a kid in the 1980s:  This is my music.  This is my band.

Named for the mysterious Galloway cattle of the British Isles (I'm not sure why), Epic's Galloway Porter is a traditional porter in every sense. The nose is very earthy and chocolaty.  Imagine sticking your nose in a big bag of bitter dark chocolate.  There are also very strong notes of dark-roasted coffee and earthy roots.  Pouring a thick, creamy head, this ale is nice and black, full-bodied, and smooth. As with "Clockwork Angels," the Galloway Porter is complex and rich in flavor.  You can really taste the chocolate and coffee-like flavors from those dark-roasted malts, but it is very smooth with very little bitterness.  I've found that this is an excellent beer for listening to Rush and specifically for listening to "Clockwork Angels..."  And definitely for a first time listen to the album when you are trying to take it all in.  A good, rich, dark, slow-sipping brew is perfect for the complexities and intricate song structure!

I highly, highly recommend both the album, "Clockwork Angels" and the beer, Epic Brewing Company's Galloway Porter!  Both are wonderfully rich, complex. amd fantastically flavorful.  A good night to you all... cheers!!

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